Benjamin Waugh had 15 countries to choose from when he wanted to spend the summer of 2011 studying abroad. He chose China.
The Pellissippi State Community College student reflects a national trend: Interest in studying Chinese language and culture is growing. The Defense Department’s senior language authority, Nancy E. Weaver, has identified Chinese as one of the languages most in demand, and an estimated 100 million people worldwide are learning to speak Chinese. To meet demand, Pellissippi State and other higher education institutions are expanding Chinese language course offerings.
Waugh didn’t consult statistics or check trends prior to deciding that he wanted to study in China, yet the Army veteran has a keen sense of the value of immersing himself in different cultures.
“You learn more about yourself when you travel,” said Waugh. “And exploring other cultures allows you to see how similar people are, rather than thinking that people who live in other countries are so different from Americans.
“In the United States, we try really hard to be unique, and instead of people recognizing how similar we all are, this attitude often serves to build walls between people. When you study abroad, you’re not choosing new things; they’re choosing you. That definitely encourages personal growth.”
In addition to preparing for his summer travels, Waugh is also spending time at all four Pellissippi State locations in Knox and Blount counties, telling other students about the study abroad opportunities available through the college and the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. TnCIS is a statewide organization of 19 community colleges and universities working to heighten international education and cultural understanding. Its headquarters are located at the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.
Waugh is one of 16 students selected for Pellissippi State’s Global Ambassadors Program. The ambassadors are awarded full study abroad scholarships and must agree to assist in efforts to recruit participants for the following year. Funds for the scholarships come from the international fee assessed to each student.
“We’re committed to making international education available and affordable to our students,” said Allen Edwards, president of Pellissippi State, “because in today’s global economy, it’s essential for them to learn about and experience other cultures.”
Study abroad opportunities are available through TnCIS each summer. In addition to China, TnCIS offers 14 countries for study abroad in 2011. Although all of the global ambassador positions for this year are filled, partial study abroad scholarships are still available. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 1.
Also reflecting the national trend in studying Chinese language and culture is Pellissippi State’s new Confucius Classroom. Starting in January, “Beginning Chinese I” and “Peoples and Culture of China” are being offered, thanks to the college’s new status as the recipient of a prestigious grant from the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis.
The grant supplies funding for a professor from China to teach language and culture classes, start-up costs of the special classroom, computer hardware and software for Chinese language instruction, and 1,000 books for the college’s library. Pellissippi State is the only community college in Tennessee to receive the grant.
For information on the study abroad scholarships at Pellissippi State, contact the college’s International Education Committee chair, Jonathan Bethard, at 865-539-7138 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Confucius Classroom, call Enrollment Services, 865-694-6400, or go to www.pstcc.edu/admissions.
For a complete list of 2011 study abroad opportunities through TnCIS, visit www.tncis.org or contact Theresa Castillo, TnCIS program coordinator, at 865-539-7280 or email@example.com.